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$70 Pentium, $600 RTX 4070: DLSS 3 Saves This Cursed Combo

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If you’re building a gaming PC, you want to invest a lot of money in a graphics card and get at least a mid-range CPU to avoid the dreaded performance bottleneck. That’s conventional wisdom, anyway: It’s what you’ll hear if you ask a fellow PC gamer or an unusually friendly nerd forum. But what if you ignore the advice and pair a brand new high-powered graphics card with the cheapest desktop processor you can find on the shelf?

This is the question asked by the YouTube channel Casual game in HD. They built a “gaming” desktop with a Pentium Gold G7400 CPU, that is going for just $70 at Best Buy todaywith a new $600 RTX 4070 graphics card, more or less just to see what happened when you glued them together. The results (via Tom’s hardware) are amazing and well worth the seven minutes it takes to complete the video. (By the way, RandomGaminginHD, thanks for making an interesting video that is actually succinct, algorithms be damned.)

In short, at least some modern games are so GPU-dependent and well-optimized that the performance bottleneck isn’t an instant obstacle, even on an ultra-budget dual-core CPU.Force Horizon 5 AND Red Dead Redemption 2, both known for incredible graphics and fairly good stability at 1440p resolution and “Ultra” graphics, handled above average 60fps and 1% lows in the 30-40fps range. (To be fair, these games run much faster when paired with more powerful CPUs, but these remain respectable numbers.) Kingdom Come Liberationoften a CPU-heavy game thanks to its many NPCs and subsystems, it still managed a passable average of 45fps and a low of 1% of 10fps.

But what about that awesome new DLSS 3 technology Did Nvidia push that hard? The idea behind it is that your GPU has built-in systems that can use AI to generate visual frames for smoother performance, along with other benefits like upscaling and latency reduction. It’s really meant to make high-end games run even better on high-end hardware…but what can it do for this weird half-budget, half-gamer build?

GeForce RTX 4070

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Read our review

A lot, it seems. With new route tracking “Overdrive mode” active in Cyberpunk 2077, in addition to DLSS and frame generation, RandomGaminginHD’s Franken-box managed an average FPS of 70 with a minimum of 1% of 30 at 1440p resolution. It’s console-quality performance running graphics that aren’t even an option on PS5 or Xbox Series X. While there were some fairly significant jitters from the low-power CPU, it’s more than playable, which is a shocking result.

But it’s not all rosy. Less GPU-optimized games and console ports didn’t perform very well. The sorcerer 3 AND Marvel’s Spider-Man suffered significant performance hits as CPU-intensive NPCs started to populate, even with DLSS and frame generation active. RandomGaminginHD concludes that a new GPU like the 4070, paired with games that support DLSS 3, could make a great core system upgrade for an older, if not necessarily so small, CPU.

So if you want solid PC performance and can’t afford, say, a Top-of-the-line Ryzen 9 7950X3D, take heart: saving a little money on a CPU won’t deplete your build. At least not as much as it once was.